You’ve passed the NCLEX, become a Registered Nurse, and have some work experience – now what? Maybe you are looking to level up in your career, switch from practice to teaching, or simply want to expand your knowledge of nursing. If this is the case, you may want to pursue a doctoral degree. Many people come to this conclusion, but figuring out how to start this process can be a significant challenge for many. Nursing is not a linear career; there are a multitude of ways to get to where you need to be, and it can be a confusing process to determine how to start your journey.
If you decide to seek a doctorate in nursing you will choose between a DNP and a PhD. Both degrees are considered terminal degrees and they confer equal status upon the recipient. In a broad sense, the main difference between these degrees is that a DNP is primarily practice-oriented and a PhD is primarily research-oriented. DNP students are expected to learn about evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems leadership, eventually culminating in a clinical project. Conversely, PhD candidates are expected to demonstrate intimate knowledge of research methods and practices through experimental studies and a dissertation. Use the table below to learn specific information about each degree.
Before deciding which degree you prefer it pays to have a clear idea of where you want to end up after you get your degree. The last thing you want to do is start a DNP program and then realize that you want be a researcher. You should also determine any requirements for your state, especially if you want to practice as an Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). Find your state board of nursing here.
|Program of Study||Objectives: Prepare nurse leaders at the highest level of nursing practice to improve patient outcomes and translate research into practice||Objectives: Prepare nurses at the highest level of nursing science to conduct research to advance the science of nursing|
|Program Assessment & Evaluation||
Do you think you might be ready to pursue a DNP or PhD? Take the survey and find out!
- APRN Consensus Model
- Key Differences between DNP and PhD/DNS Programs
- Academic Progression Brochure
- DNP Programs by State